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November 06, 2013

age is beauty

I'm in my late twenties—and apparently this is the age when female friends start telling me about the wear and tear on their bodies. One complained to me about the crow's feet around her eyes and the way her skin looked definitively older after just one more summer in the sun. Another has been finding grey hairs, and she's only in her early thirties. A third told me how a guy asked her if the mark on her leg was a surgery scar—to which she had to honestly reply, “No, that's a stretch mark.” We're starting to look back on photos taken only four years ago and think “Wow, I looked much younger then! Didn't my skin look nicer then?” Time is taking its toll. And too many of us are not OK with that.

Ever since the crow's feet remark, I have been renewed in thinking about the beauty that is available to us in Je'sus. How wonderful it is to get older with J'esus. Because only in J'esus do we find an escape from the world's dying system, where women must fight to stop the age clock. In every other Western worldview, every other system, women have to grapple with the issue of becoming "un-beautiful" as they age. Their physical feminine glory loses it's luster and then, what is life? Fifty more years of unbeautifulness, a downhill slope?

But in the B!ble, age is beauty.

Because beauty is in your good works (as done through the grace of God, I Tim. 2:9-10, Eph 2:8-10, Rev. 19:8).

And the older you get, the more time you've had to do good works.
So your beauty blossoms as time goes by.

Which means thirty is more lovely than twenty.
Forty is gorgeous, darling!
And fifty? By then, you'll be stunning, my friend, if you continue on His path.

My friends with the scars and stretch marks and white hairs? They are getting more beautiful, as they donate their time to orphanages, outreaches, and to the children of cross-cultural workers. One cleans her crotchety neighbours' house and is the only J'esus they see. Another finds sponsors for needy children and yet another spends weekends with an older lady from her chur'ch to provide companionship. They organize summer camps. They open their homes to people needing a place to stay. They suffer through health problems that limit them, or family difficulties, but they don't lose hope. One took in some friends of mine who were in a crisis when I was far away in Asia—the bond that has grown between them is beautiful.  

They remind me of 1 Timothy 5:10, they have:
brought up children,”
lodged strangers,”
washed the saints' feet,”
relieved the afflicted,”
diligently followed every good work.”

They don't make a big deal of the beautiful things they are doing.
They do them out of gratitude to Chr!st.
These are beautiful women.

They evidence their beauty not only in these altruistic acts, but also in their daily routines. They wake up each morning, pin back their hair, add a touch of mascara, and go through another day with a smile and faithfulness. Some have never had a man call them beautiful, and I know their hearts long deeply for that recognition and affirmation. But the Lover of their souls has called them Beloved, beautiful, and has betrothed Himself to them. As He takes deeper root in their hearts and lives, I see how things are changing, as their lives better reflect His beautiful character. They are “not afraid” (Prov. 31:21), no matter what the world may tell them about the passage of time or the state of their bodies.

So I say,
Be happy for the way your skin has weathered because you were chasing kids and telling them about hope. Remember how the five pounds you gained last summer were because you were eating bad camp food, so that you could share love. Be thankful for the callous you got weeding the neighbour's garden or the scar on your finger that reminds you of that job that was difficult, but you stuck it out. This is no excuse to let yourself go, to be un-pretty. It's just a call to focus on inner beauty, that doesn't fade away. This is not self esteem, it's Chr!st esteem. Your true beauty is so entwined in J'esus, and another year just means another year of getting to look more like Him, and point more eyes to Him. And if no one's ever told you, woman of God, you are beautiful.

[Friends, thank you for letting me observe your beauty as I visited with many of you during October. I love you!]

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